NFL

NFL Winners and Losers - Week 2

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It's time for the Week 1 edition of ‘NFL Winners and Losers'. Each week I will take a look at some of the bonehead plays, stupid decisions and horrible calls. I'll also give credit where credit is due and point out the good surprises each week. Here. We. Go.

LOSERS

Ravens vs. Bengals Game Referees: Somehow, this always happens to the Baltimore Ravens. Last year, the refs made a horrible call on the Ravens for roughing the passer after Tom Brady was barely touched. In the Week 2 matchup against the Bengals, the Ravens were penalized twice on plays when Carson Palmer was hit. Both were terrible calls.

The first call came in the third quarter when Ray Lewis lunged forward to try and sack Palmer. Lewis fell short and landed on the ground with his back to Palmer, but the Bengals quarterback tripped over Lewis' legs and fell. The 15-year-veteran was penalized for tripping even though Palmer clearly stumbled over him and the penalty led to a field goal. That call was very questionable, but the penalty on Terrell Suggs was just awful.

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In the fourth quarter, Palmer barely got a pass off and was taken down by Suggs. He had his hands on Palmer and was in the process of tackling him before he threw the ball. What is Suggs supposed to do? He can't stop in mid-motion. Nobody could. It was a clean hit, but the refs tacked on 15 more yards because the precious quarterbacks need to be protected. That drive led to another field goal and both calls, along with the loss, led to an angry rant about the officiating from Lewis. And he was absolutely right. You get hit in football. That's just how it is. You might as well put flags on the quarterbacks if this kind of officiating continues.

Brad Childress, Brett Favre and the Vikings: 10 points? 10? After losing on the road to the defending Super Bowl champions and playing in the home opener, the Vikings could only score 10 points. That's not a good sign for things to come.

Miami's defense looked solid. But 10 points? Brett Favre looked out of it. He threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball in his own end zone, allowing Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi to fall on top of it for a touchdown.

Minnesota also had three chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter from inside the 5-yard-line. On fourth and one, Brad Childress called a slow-developing play, making Adrian Peterson to run to the right side. He didn't even come close. Why call a play like that? Why not call a play that has Peterson, one of the hardest runners and one of the toughest players to bring down, run right up the middle? Now the Vikings are 0-2 with an unenthusiastic Favre (who will probably retire mid-season at this rate) and a tough schedule coming up.

Tennessee Titans: Besides a late onside kick recovery late in the game, just about everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Titans. Tennessee turned the ball over seven times and lost 19-11. They fumbled and lost the ball four times. Vince Young threw two interceptions and was benched for Kerry Collins, who threw one of his own. That is unacceptable. Anytime you turn the ball over seven times, you are probably not going to win the game. The Titans are just lucky that they still had a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

WINNERS

Michael Vick: Starting at quarterback for the first time since 2006, Michael Vick looked good. Very good. Quarterback controversy good. Vick was 21-for-34 with 284 yards and two touchdowns. He was accurate. He was explosive. He looked like his old self again. Granted, he was playing the Detroit Lions, but it was still a solid performance and exciting to watch.

Late in the first half with the Eagles marching up the field, the Lions defense blitzed Vick from his blind side. Vick saw it, made a spin move and escaped out of the pocket, turning a near-sack into a 10-yard gain and a first down.

Vick's performance adds a little fuel to the quarterback situation in Philadelphia. Andy Reid announced on Tuesday that Vick will be the starter in Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Who saw this one coming after McNabb was traded in order to get the Kolb era going?

The Pittsburgh Steelers: I have to hand it to Pittsburgh. First, they won a tough game against a tough Atlanta team in overtime. In Week 2, the Steelers took down the Titans who were coming off a 38-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders. And of course, they won both without Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers are 2-0 with a road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming up. After that, they host the Ravens in a huge AFC North battle, a team that couldn't score more than one touchdown in Cincinnati. Picture Joe Flacco having a game like that against the Pittsburgh defense. A 4-0 start is beginning to seem pretty reasonable.

Matt Schaub: Last year, the Houston Texans lost to the Colts after leading by 17. On Sunday, Matt Schaub helped Houston erase a 17-point deficit to the Washington Redskins and win in overtime 30-27. Schaub threw for an absurd 497 yards, a franchise record, and three touchdowns. It truly was one of the greatest performances from a quarterback in a long time.

He spread the ball around, hitting eight different receivers and completed in 73.1 percent of his passes. Down by seven on fourth and 10 with the game on the line, Schaub heaved the ball to Johnson in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown. He just wouldn't be stopped. Yes, the Redskins had plenty of opportunities to put the game away. But they didn't and Schaub capitalized. You can't take that away from him. - Michael Klopman

Michael, a Penn State Graduate writes for Xtra Point Football, Around the Horn Baseball, and works on the sports page at the Huffington Post.

 

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